“Smiles Of A Summer Night” Serge Lutens Bas De Soie (2010)

 

Serge Lutens: Bas De Soie (Christopher Sheldrake) 2010

 

“Like ghosts the children walked across the lawn on their bare feet. The moon was full. Above the damp grass hung a veil of mist, luminous with moonlight and spangled with fireflies. There was no wind, and the sound of the brook was very distinct, tinkling, splashing, running softly. It made me think of an ancient fountain, shaped like a shell, covered with moss, and set in a secluded garden. Something I half remembered, or imagined.”              -Elizabeth Enright

 

I love Bas De Soie for a warm summer’s eve, it wraps you in moonlight and makes you feel at peace with the world. Regardless of recent rumors that Bas De Soie (meaning silk stockings and originally reviewed on cafleurebon here) is one of the many SL’s that will be discontinued, it is actually being shuffled into another collection, and is still currently available online. Despite being reformulated who-knows-how-many-times, it remains a great choice for warm weather.

Bas De Soie; which is more like a silk shawl than silk stockings, flies under the radar in the canon of Lutens creations, and that’s a shame really. It’s a curious, heady, and ghostly mix of iris and hyacinth, shot thru with the green of galbanum and powdery from the musk. Definitely unisex, it wears sheer and light as a silk kimono, perfect for temperate evenings in the garden or on the town, and despite the perceived “lightness”, it lasts a good long time. It feels quintessentially French and both modern and classic, almost as if Chanel 19 had a venerated Tante or Oncle, waiting out their days with scandalous memories to keep them company in the family Maison at the edge of the Bois de Boulogne. It took me a bit to warm up to Bas De Soie but now I cannot imagine being without it, iris lover that I am.

Notes: Galbanum, Hyacinth, Iris, Spicy Notes, Musk

 

 

©thefragrantwanderer 2017

 

Imaginary Authors, Saint Julep (Josh Meyer) 2017

Originally published on http://www.cafleurebon.com   20 June, 2017

 

New Perfume Review: Imaginary Authors, Saint Julep (Josh Meyer) 2017

“I must speak a little upon the mint-julep, as it is, with the thermometer at 100 degrees F., one of the most delightful and insinuating potations that ever was invented, and may be drunk with equal satisfaction when the thermometer is as low as 70 degrees.” -Captain Frederick Marryat’s diary (1838)

Releasing on the twentieth of June, is the very latest in the Imaginary Authors canon; Josh Meyer’s tribute to the hot and sultry summers in the south: Saint Julep.

Whether it’s the cross-country road trip vibe of Kerouac in The Cobra And The Canary, or the über-macho Pamplona-run-with-the-bulls Hemingway feel of Bull’s Blood, Josh Meyer’s thoughtful and much-discussed Imaginary Authors perfumes exist to tell a story. You really don’t need to know the stories to love Josh’s perfumes, but if you’re a compulsive reader like I am then the genesis (or should I say genre) of his perfumes will feel familiar to you. You may think you’ve read or heard the story, but like the goddess Athena emerging fully formed and battle ready from Zeus’s forehead, these tales and their “imaginary authors” spring to life from the extraordinary mind of perfumer Josh Meyer.

Mining the rich and vast Southern literary tradition which gave us Faulkner, Williams, Capote, and Harper Lee among others Josh gives us a Mint Julep of a perfume that could easily have been inspired by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Alice Walkers’ juke joint in “The Color Purple”, or a scorchingly hot and bright afternoon on a front porch in Carson McCuller’s “Member Of The Wedding” or “The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter”.

“Open the whisky, Tom,’ she ordered, ‘and I’ll make you a mint julep. Then you won’t seem so stupid to yourself…” ― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

The “plot” of Saint Julep according to Josh Meyer is this:

“On the outskirts of Clarksdale, Mississippi, at the end of a secluded dirt road sat a small ramshackle church. It was not a place of worship but rather where many went to seek refuge during impoverished times. Legend has it the structure was transported to the wild mint field by hand, hoisted on the shoulders of two dozen men. The outside remained simple and nondescript but the interior was aglow with Christmas lights, pilfered neon signs and a jukebox donated by the sheriff’s son. It was a distinctly secular place where locals who knew where to find it could share moonshine, socialize, and dance their troubles away. They called their ramshackle juke joint Saint Julep, and the oral histories compiled within paint a picture of that magical place where “the smiles were always free and salvation had the distinct smell of sweet mint.” -Milton Nevers, Author

Mint Julep as a drink, originated sometime in the mid-1700’s. The origin of the word julep comes from the Persian word “gulab” or “julâb” which means “rosewater”. The term mint julep was also used to describe a drink to accompany medicine to kill the medicinal taste and help with upset stomachs and ease sore throats. The mint julep, a cocktail made with bourbon, powdered sugar, water and mint, is the official drink of the Kentucky Derby horse race, and nearly 120,000 juleps are mixed sold at Churchill Downs racetrack over the two-day race period.

Saint Julep is a seemingly simple but actually very complex “one trick pony”, and oh what an astonishing and amazing trick it is. Opening with an arctic blast of herbaceous and citrus cool, it’s easy to believe that you’re taking an initial sip of an icy mint julep on an almost unbearably hot, humid, and languid southern afternoon. The bourbon note suggests not only the alcoholic aspect of the drink, but also a wood-like vibe that could easily be either mint leaves and stems, or the smell of heat rising from a planked porch, and slightly acrid like sweat on the back of your neck being cooled by being rubbed with a cooling ice cube. The sugarcube note serves to add a sweetness that helps to cut the bitter herbs. The cool minty scent rising from the cup mixes with the fecund blowsiness coming from the decades-old Magnolia tree helping to shade the porch. And the metallic bite and zing is the scent of cold liquid against the side of the traditional silver or silver-plated julep cup. Saint Julep is a saint I would happily pray to, even as a non-drinker. It encompasses everything I look for in a warm weather scent; easy to wear, intriguing, and like the feeling of air-conditioning on a steaming hot day, cool and oh so refreshing.

Notes: Sweet mint, tangerine, southern magnolia, bourbon, grisalva (an aroma molecule which can be ambergris, animal, dry, fresh, metallic.), Sugarcube, crushed ice.

Disclosure: Thank you SO much to Imaginary Authors and Josh Meyer for supplying the perfume.. The opinions are my own.

-Robert Herrmann, Sr. Contributor
-Art Direction: Michelyn Camen, Editor-in-Chief

 

 

 

New Perfume Review: Anya’s Garden Strange Magic (Anya McCoy) 2017

 

Originally published on http://www.cafleurebon.com   17 June, 2017

 

Natural perfumer Anya McCoy has a new perfume, (her first since 2015’s Enticing), and like its namesake, Strange Magic, it is akin to a magical love potion, effusive, narcotic, and utterly enchanting. Intensely concentrated, two sprays were enough to make my head spin and my imagination soar to new and unforgettable heights.

When I finally came back to earth, it was in a fantasy moonlit leafy bower not unlike the magical location as described by Oberon in William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, a play I fell in love with and memorized cover-to-cover in fourth grade….

“I know a bank whereon the wild thyme blows,

Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,

Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,

With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine.

There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,

Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight;”

-A Midsummer Nights Dream, Act ll Scene 1, William Shakespeare

 

“Strange Magic is the first perfume to be composed of approximately 95% organic fragrant tinctures, and these tinctures reveal hidden colors in the flowers, leaves, and roots when placed in alcohol. I’ve tinctured for herbal purposes for forty years, and for perfume purposes for twenty years. It wasn’t until I dropped snow white Champaca flowers into alcohol a few years ago and saw the alcohol turn pink, then red, then dark red that I realized there were hidden secrets in some flowers – Strange Magic.” -Anya McCoy

Magic indeed.

 

Let’s start with the color, since the color of the tinctures and it’s hypermutable nature is so integral to the creation process and development of Strange Magic. In the bottle the liquid looks thick and lush, with an almost deep Imperial Topaz color; a golden brown shot thru with a near black blood-like vermillion. Like a luminous liquid dark chocolate: glossy, rich and unctuous. Once aerated through the spray it is colorless on the skin, but does show a very slight taupe tint on white cloth. The scent itself is quite linear and that’s an extremely good thing, you want this perfume to stay just as it is upon first application. Lush, intoxicating, an almost hallucinogenic surfeit of the white flowers which dominate and entice. White Champaca yes, but so much more when supported by creamy Ylang, indolic Jasmine, and a gardenia note that is simply breathtaking. In the first few minutes, the dusty hay and slightly absinthian bitterness of the chamomile mix with the sweetish and saline notes of the ambergris to lend depth and body to the abundance of florals.

 

Rich, fulsome, tropical and humid, Strange Magic has it all. In spades. A dazzling liquid incantation that shimmers and gleams as softly as the wing of a dragonfly. Nothing “Strange” about it actually. Just magic. Perfumed magic.

Notes and corresponding color: Chinese Perfume Tree: yellow flowers (Dark amber tincture), Orris: pale white rhizome (Bright coral, orange tincture), Chamomiles: white flowers (Blue oils when distilled), Gardenias: white flowers (Dark amber tincture), Jasmines: white flowers (Deep amber tincture (some, not all), White Champaca: white flowers (Crimson red to dark red tincture), Ylang ylang: yellow flowers (Olive green to dark green tincture), Cashmere Bouquet: white flowers (Deep red tincture), Vintage white ambergris from Vanuatu (Orange tincture)

Disclosure: Thank you so very much to Anya McCoy for supplying the sample. The opinions are my own.

-Robert Herrmann, Contributing Editor

-Art Direction: Michelyn Camen, Editor-in-Chief

 

Sixteen92 Perfumes: La Llorona (Claire Baxter) 2016

Originally published on http://www.cafleurebon.com   16 June, 2017

 

Natural Perfume Review: Sixteen92 La Llorona (Claire Baxter) 2016

It’s been a busy 2017 for perfumer Claire Baxter of Sixteen92 Perfumes in Dallas Texas. After being nominated for, and ultimately winning this years’ Art and Olfaction award for Best Artisan Perfume, Claire’s life has been fast-tracked by having the niche perfume world spotlight shining soundly on her wonderful scents. Claire has been busy creating her Summer 2017 collection, as well as filling the multitude of orders that started pouring in after her win.

When I first reviewed Claire Baxter’s winning Bruise Violet for Cafleurebon back in April, the perfume had just received the nomination. We were thrilled when she went on to win the award, and I recently had a chance to catch up with Claire and ask her about the effects of winning such a distinction. Here’s what she told me……

“Simply being named a finalist was a huge surprise, so winning was a tremendous — and quite an unexpected — honor. As an independent perfumer, I work alone; I don’t have a team of art directors or a client to whom I am beholden. As an artist, that’s liberating — but quite often it’s also a little terrifying. I create things that I love, and I put them out into the world with the hopes that others will love them, too. But I never really quite know for sure. Will they love it as much as I do? Is it good? Is it good enough? Should I have added more of this, or less of that, or…? This is the kind of stuff that will keep you up at night if you let it. Bruise Violet was one of my favorites from the moment I began creating it, so seeing that others also liked it, and seeing it recognized in a group with so many other great perfumes and perfumers was exciting, and humbling, and surprising, and just really super cool.” -Claire Baxter Sixteen92 Perfumes on her A/O Best Artisan Fragrance win.

Claire Baxter’s catalogue has a bevy of wonderful and unforgettable perfumes and oils, Bruise Violet not withstanding. One of my favorites is a scent right out of myth and legend called La Llorona.

Named after the Hispanic mythological version of the “Woman In White”, La Llorona (the weeping woman) has been woven into the fabric of the West and Southwest since the days of the Conquistadores. She is the water-bound spirit of a woman who having been lost in love and abandoned at the altar, drowns her children in a river, and haunts the waterways, crying and searching for her lost children while looking for new children to spirit away. Not unlike the threat of the boogeyman, kids who misbehave are often told “La Llorona will take you away if you’re not good!” Almost every culture in the world has a Woman In White story, most notably featured in British author Wilkie Collins 1850 novel of the same name, a classic gothic-style ghost story told in the then-popular penny-dreadful style.

The idea of a perfume based on La Llorona is fascinating, being a story that has been told time-out-of-mind to the children of the western USA and Mexico. So how to translate that to perfume? Claire Baxter has done so brilliantly.

Given the connection to flowing and shifting waters, it should be no surprise that Llorona is a misty, watery, aquatic, and mentholated lovely floral that hints of melancholy and sadness. Imagine a week-old wedding bouquet of flowers left on a muddy riverside as a tribute or memento mori. Spiced with pepper and bitter with citrus, the florals feel soft and sweet but faded and past their prime, dead and forgotten. There is a definite aqueous vibe, the ebb and flow of moving waterways, not unlike the now dead blooms sitting in a vase whose water need to be changed or thrown away. The smell of wild reeds on a muddy bank surrounded by flowers breathing their last. La Llorona like the woman in white, is haunting and beautiful with a scent that cajoles, begs and entices you to dip your toe onto her swiftly flowing grief, and so is a  fitting tribute to a woman grieving, weeping, and mourning the loss of love and loss of her children.

Notes: Bulgarian and Egyptian rose absolute, pink and white pepper, pink grapefruit, wisteria, cashmere wood, pale amber.

Disclaimer: The perfume oil and opinions are my own.

 

-Robert Herrmann, Contributing Editor

-Art Direction: Michelyn Camen, Editor-in-Chief

 

 

The Forgotten Flanker…..

IMG_3093Photo by Robert H.

 

Ombre Rose Fraiche by Brosseau is not known by many perfumistas, which is a shame because it’s a really lovely scent! Very much like OR but with the patch removed and a ton of added “fraiche”.   It wasn’t that popular when first released in 1997, and so it was only in production for about a minute and a half, sadly.

Authored  by renowned nose Anne Flipo.

Notes: Bergamot, melon, orris, LOTV, jasmine, rose, musk, cedar, and sandalwood